MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - There was a champion’s sendoff for Jeff Davis High School senior Joseph Bradley on Friday. He’s the first Alabama athlete selected to compete in the Special Olympics World Games in more than 10 years!
But before he rides high on the international stage, he enjoyed some fanfare of his own here at home.
“It was a total surprise for Joseph,” his mother, Mary Bradley, admitted.
Friday, Bradley’s teachers and classmates rolled out the red carpet and held a pep-rally that would rival any the school’s hosted since the beginning of the school year. The gymnasium doors opened and the music blasted as Bradley ran through a send-off sign.
“We had a hard time trying to close him in and make sure it was a surprise, and we kept it to the end,” Bradley said “This is just an awesome, once in a lifetime experience.”
Mom is on pins and needles working to get her son ready for take off.
“We are still trying to pack,” she explained. “A couple parts of his uniform haven’t fit, we had pieces to come in overnight. We are going to finish packing him tonight. This is extremely exciting. Who gets to say ‘Hey, I’m going to Abu Dhabi’?”
Joseph's biggest concern Friday: leading the band as an honorary drum major and receiving another gold metal.
Thanks to the generosity of the community, and non-profits like Magic Moments, the whole family will be able to share in Joseph’s international debut.
“He leaves Wednesday at 5 a.m. and we follow him a few days later,” his mom said. “We have been blessed, we have a 501c3 that’s stood up for us to allow people to do funding, they took care of our flight and hotel, and food. Now, we will be able to continue to cheer him on.”
Now there’s only one thing left to do. “Win the gold,” Joseph said.
“As his mother, I just continue to encourage him that what you set your mind to, you can do.”
The Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremony starts March 14 and runs through March 21.